Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Caring for one's Health vs. Funding Health Care

Hi Positive Eaters,

I posted on this subject long before it became a huge political issue. Today, there is a vast divide in this country regarding the Health Reform Bill that will potentially be signed into law by President Obama. The gist of my earlier post revolved around personal responsibility for one's health and how that was the best health care one could provide themselves with. The issue is grown into a debate about the economics and politics of funding health care rather than discussion about caring for one's actual health.

Simply put, the health care system only kicks in when something is wrong with you. Sure there are annual physicals and trivial check ups...but these are certainly not what is dragging the health care system down. The concern about the recent bill centers around the enormous rise in government spending and the drastic effect a public option may cause in insurance premiums, quality of care, cost to business and a slew of other concerns. Many of these concerns are warranted while others are merely products an Us versus Them dichotomy inherent in our political system.

The enormous cost of the bill makes this a salient economic issue. Unfortunately, I am not an economist. There are very talented economists who say a public option will save trillions and others who say it will drive America deeper into debt. This is an important argument to have. I am wondering why no one is talking about the real cause of the health care crisis?

The national debt did not cause the health care crisis. The state of health in America caused the crisis. I have seen estimates as low as 37% and as high as 61% for the amount of health care resources being allocated to treat conditions that are completely preventable. If you take the middle of that range we are looking at 50% or half of all the money being spent on health care today being used for conditions that can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle. There are many more numbers that support this, such as eight out the top ten causes of death in America are diseases that are related to personal lifestyle. The truth is we don't really need the numbers, we can simply observe the sedentary lifestyles being fueled by fast, cheap and processed food. This is the heart of the health care conundrum.

I recently read an article about a guy who is powering his entire house with solar electric panels. This is becoming quite common for residences and businesses across the world. What was different about this man is he spent the last 11 years making his home as energy efficient as possible while remaining "on the grid." When it came time to convert his house to solar power it was affordable and relatively easy...simply because his home needed very little power to begin with. Does this appear to be a random tangent or can you see the relationship between the two issues. Let me try one a little closer to home. One of the first cultures to practice organized health care was the ancient Chinese. There doctors received payment only when their patients reached full recovery. They were paid to keep people well, not simply to treat symptomatic responses. With diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer being some of the Center for Disease Controls top priorities...what is being done to bring about wellness in our country. There is a lot of chatter about funding a system that only responds when these diseases become present.

Public funding of health care may indeed have a bright future...but only in an America where people take their health into their own hands. The concern should not be for "who is going to fund the health care" it should be "how are we going to care for our health." This is possible for each of us every single day. We are given upon birth great power and great control of our own bodies. Your physical body is yours to pilot through life and you are given complete sovereignty of it. This post is not about costs, premiums, taxes or political allegiance. I care about individual health, mine and yours. I want you to realize that it is something within your own power. The concerns out there are very real and I do acknowledge them...but they are all secondary to our physical state of well being.

The recession was a great time to look at the value in the non material parts of our lives. We learned to receive abundance and gratitude for how they filled up our lives. This tumultous time provides us the opportunity to appreciate the only material thing you are granted unwavering posession of, the miraculous machine, wrapped in flesh and bone that is you.

Stay Positive,


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The One Night Stand with a Ho-Ho

Hi Positive Eaters,

The title was absolutely meant to shock and awe you all! When I first started doing health coaching, I delivered this talk called Building a Positive Relationship with Food. This was a fun talk that centered around the truly intimate relationship we share with our food. What we eat involves taking an external, physical thing and making it a part of us. What can be more intimate than that?

During the talk I likened eating fast food to a "one night stand". Think about it! We run into some glitzy and overly fake setting and pick up a juicy fake food item and rush to experience an instantaneous few moments of pleasure. The salt and the fat is just right and its texture helps it glide smoothly down our esophagus. We finish it off with a creamy sugary substance that puts us into a brief state of bliss. Then only a few moments later we are wondering what we just did.

I believe eating should be an enjoyable experience everytime we pick up a fork. I am often challenged on this point. People tell me that if they followed their bliss in regards to eating, they would scarf down ho-ho's and eat ice cream all day long. This may be true for the short term. Do food choices like these provide us with any lasting joy?

When we deprive ourselves of valuable nutrients and we don't pay attention to what's on the inside of our food, we often miss out. I am not speaking just of the thousands of beneficial minerals, vitamins and micronutrients found in clean, natural and whole foods, I am talking about our sense of self respect. When we eat real foods that we love it fosters a deep connection to our bodies. We feel nourished down to the core of our being. I thoroughly believe this stimulates thoughts and feelings within us that are self affirming.

Few would argue that the foundation of a joyful life is an abundance of true and meaningful relationships. Why not start with your food. Nature adorned it with pretty and vibrant colors just to attract you and you won't need to worry about rejection...well unless you are allergic to that particular food. The point is to enjoy food that makes you feel good all the way down through your head, heart and toes. Eat and let yourself feel wonderful about how well you are treating your body with this magnificent food you are eating. Do this and maybe you can avoid the guilt you feel when you step on the wrapper you left on the floor from your recent fling with Little Debbie.

Stay Positive,


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vegetable Broth made from Scrap!

Hello Positive Eaters,

As promised I decided to experiment with making my own vegetable broth. I often buy prepackaged boxes of broth from the store. These seem to work quite well, however most are still pretty high in sodium and probably missing many nutrients due to long shelf lives. For those of you who follow this blog, you probably noticed that I really like soup. So making my own broth is a great thing for me to learn.

A friend who I am advising, recently got struck with diverticulitis and was off solid food. He told me how much he missed vegetables...which was music to my ears! I suggested drinking vegetable broth. He was wary to do so due to the high sodium content in most prepackaged broths. I told him he should make his own. Then I realized, I never attempted this myself. We both set out to make our own broths that week.

As luck would have it, Tal Ronnen's cookbook that I recently got as a gift, recommended making your own broth by saving your vegetable scraps from the week. This includes peels, ends of vegetables usually tossed away, rinds, seeds, vegetables gone limp, leaves and anything else you might have lying around. The idea of making a nutritious food out of garbage was too exciting not to try. I saved my vegetable scraps for five days.

The rest of the equation is really quite simple. Put these in a pot with water and bring up to a boil, then back off the heat and let them simmer for a long time. I decided to make this process even easier by making the broth in a rice cooker, since that backs off to a simmer automatically for me. I minced up some shallots that were hanging out for the past week and put in some fresh kale to up the nutrient and taste profile and let the rice cooker do its thing.

I actually went to bed and let this simmer over night. I woke up at 2am and snuck out to the kitchen to see how it was coming. I was blown away by the pleasant aroma the broth gave off. Remember, the majority of the items in this pot would normally be thrown out or composted. This was the most pleasant smelling garbage ever. In the morning I strained away the scraps and added a little salt, sage, rosemary and thyme to the broth. I heated this up and gave it a taste.

This was a flavorful, nutrient dense broth that I was so excited about I invited friends over for soup. I made a quick soup that involved sauteeing garlic and adding celery and carrots. Then I added the broth and added portabello mushrooms and scallions. Everyone loved is safe to say I will be making my own broth from now on!

Stay Positive,



I noticed many people who have blogs ask people to "follow" them. I just found out what this actually means. So if you like the content of this blog feel free to "follow" it, in the official sense of the word :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Super Energy Bars!

Hello Positive Eaters,

I am on a mission to start making items that I usually purchase pre-packaged. I often eat all natural energy bars, such as the ones Odwalla makes. While I was at Integrative Nutrition someone gave me this recipe for homemade energy bars and I decided to revisit it and share it with you. So here is my recipe for Super Energy Bars.

This is less of a recipe and more of a concept. You need to make a glue of some sort to stick together all of the super ingredients. I chose to use Coconut Oil, Peanut Butter and Agave Syrup (you could just as easily use other oils and other nut butters). Coconut Oil is perfect because of its low melting point. Solid Coconut Oil begins to get weepy at only 90 degrees faranheit. I melted these ingredients in a double boiler.

After the ingredients melted, I added four tablespoons of raw Cacao (pure unadulterated chocolate!) I mixed it together and took it right off the burner because I wanted the integrity of the Cacao to remain. Too much cooking will break down all of its powerful antioxidants.

I chose to use Almonds, Dried Cranberries and Oats for these bars. The combinations of dry ingredients you could use are endless. These are my favorites...I may try it again later in the week with Dried Cherries. I placed these in pyrex bowl and went to retrieve the "glue."

I then added the "glue" to the dry ingredients and mixed everything together well. I took some tastes of the mixture and was aware that these energy bars were not going to last very long.

After mixing together, I pressed the mixture into a pan and covered it with aluminum foil. These were in the freezer for an hour or less. They were solid and able to eat them like energy bars after chilling out in the freezer. These need to be stored in the freezer so that they remain solid. These may not be the best energy bar to bring on a 3 day backpacking trip...but perfect for grabbing when you get home from a run or from work.

Ry Chi and Fawn came over on Saturday and we ate almost the entire pan they were so good. I was able to salvage only one small piece so that I could share a picture of the finished product with you.

Super Energy Bars

1/2 cup of Coconut Oil
1 cup Peanut Butter
1-2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
4 tablespoons Raw Cacao

1 cup Slivered Almonds
1 cup Dried Cranberries
3/4 cup Oats

Melt the first three ingredients in a double boiler. Add Raw Cacao and Agave Nectar after melting is complete. Transfer this into a bowl with the bottom three ingredients and mix together well. Press into a pan and cover with aluminum foil. Place in the the freezer for an hour or less.

Stay Positive,


coming up next...homemade vegetable broth!